How to work on multiple latex documents with JabRef?

I’m fairly new to JabRef and am still trying to figure out how to fit it into my workflow. I’m a little confused how groups are meant to fit into the exportation of bib files. Here’s how I envision JabRef working - I would appreciate feedback on whether this is correct, or if not, how I should be using JabRef.

  • I’m working on multiple different projects, each with a separate set of references. These different projects are each assigned their own group.
  • Each project is also associated with its own tex file, and hence needs a bib file specific to that project in order to compile.
  • So, I would have expected JabRef to be able to export group-specific bib files, and for these bib files to be updated when new citations are added to the group.

But it seems like group-specific bib files aren’t supported. I can highlight all the entries in a group and copy the bib entries to my clipboard, but this means I have to do this every time I add a new entry to the group. So what exactly is the intended workflow for working with multiple projects? Is the idea that I should just have all my citations sorted out before I start writing my Latex document? Or should all my tex files point to the same giant bib file with all of my references?

Group specific .bib files sound like an interesting idea and I can understand the problem you are facing.

The workflow I personally currently use to work with multiple projects is to have multiple .bib files and only a low amount of groups (e.g. 1. to read 2. Skimmed 3. used 4. not used). This works very well if you have small sized databases and if you plan to not use this bibliographic data again. This works less well if you have huge libraries and plan to use this data for multiple projects, as you describe.

Current JabRef supports workflows as you suggest:

  • Either have multiple smaller .bib files and one large library
    • and you copy from your large library to these bib files
    • or you copy from smaller library (after you are done with the project) into the large library
  • Or you ONLY have one large library that you use for all your projects.

If you use LaTeX, I personally would suggest using multiple smaller libraries, because compiling will take longer the larger your .bib file is, but of course you also can use one large library.

Remember to create a workflow that involves backups. My computer broke this week and nothing works anymore. Writing this from my laptop I use for emergencies.